Getty Images

Re-ranking the 2007 recruiting class

2 Comments

July’s live recruiting period, the last of its kind, just finished up, meaning that the Class of 2019 have fully had a chance to prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country.

Scholarships were earned and rankings were justified over the course of those three weekends, but scholarship offers and rankings don’t always tell us who the best players in a given class will end up being.

Ask Steph Curry.

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be re-ranking eight recruiting classes, from 2007-2014, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career. 

Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2007, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

(Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

1. JAMES HARDEN (11)

The Beard has gone from being an incredibly productive two-year player at Arizona State to the Sixth Man of the Year as a third-year pro to the MVP of the NBA this past season. In six seasons since leaving Oklahoma City, Harden has yet to average under 25.4 points, 5.8 assists and 4.7 boards. Last season, he averaged 30.4 points. The year before that, he averaged 11.2 assists. And if it wasn’t for Chris Paul’s hamstring injury in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals — or Houston missing 27 straight threes in Game 7 — his Houston Rocket team would have been the team to dethrone Golden State.

Harden is arguably the best player in the NBA not named LeBron or Durant. Not only that, he has helped reinvent the way basketball is played in the pace-and-space era.

2. DERRICK ROSE (3)

As hard as this may be to believe, Derrick Rose does not turn 30 years old for another two months. It’s easy to forget that, at the time of his first knee injury all the way back in the 2011-12 season, he was just 23 years old, coming off of a year where he was the youngest player in NBA history to win the MVP award. The Chicago-native had led the Bulls to the No. 1 seed in the East, falling in five games to the first iteration of LeBron’s Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Rose could have been one of the best to ever play the game had his body held up. He will always be one of basketball’s great ‘what-ifs?’

3. KEVIN LOVE (6)

It’s easy to forget that, before Love arrived in Cleveland, before he had to cede much of his production to play alongside LeBron and Kyrie Irving, that Love was a 25-year old three-time all-star that was coming off a season where he was named second-team all-NBA when he averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 boards and 4.4 assists. The third option on the LeBron superteams (Love and Chris Bosh) has been the one to make the biggest sacrifice, but it’s inarguable that part of the reason Cleveland could be called a superteam the last four seasons was his presence on the roster. Love has turned into something of a laughing-stock in recent seasons, but I’d guess it was worth it for that 2016 title and three other trips to the NBA Finals.

(Carlos Osorio – Pool/Getty Images)

4. BLAKE GRIFFIN (23)

Griffin passed up the chance to be a top ten pick in the 2008 NBA Draft to return to school for his sophomore season, where he won the National Player of the Year award and was the first pick the following season. He missed his first year in the NBA, but since then has been one of the best power forwards in the game, adapting the way he plays to fit the modern NBA. He averaged 12.1 boards as a rookie and has won an NBA Dunk Contest, and this past season h dished out a career-high 5.8 assists per game while shooting 34.5 percent from three on more than five attempts per game.

5. ERIC GORDON (2)

Gordon has never made an all-star game, has only played more than 70 games twice in ten years and, at this point in his career, is a part-time starter for the Houston Rockets, but he’s made a lucrative career out of being a big-time scorer that can shoot the rock. Over the course of ten seasons, he’s averaged 16.7 points and shot 37.6 percent from three.

6. DEANDRE JORDON (8)

The last of a dying breed, Jordan’s career got off to a slow start — he was a second round pick that came off the bench for two seasons — but he’s since turned into a workhorse and one of the best defensive centers in the league. He’s twice led the NBA in rebounding, he’s been a first-team all-defensive player twice, first team All-NBA once and he made a killing out of being the finisher in Chris Paul pick-and-rolls. He’s also made just a single three-pointer in ten seasons. Will we ever see another DeAndre Jordan?

(Harry How/Getty Images)

7. JEFF TEAGUE (57)

Since breaking into Atlanta’s starting lineup during the 2011-12 season, Teague has grown into being one of the more consistent point guards in the league. He’s only made one all-star team, but in the last six seasons, he’s never averaged less than 14.2 points and 5.9 assists.

8. CHANDLER PARSONS (19)

A series of injuries over the course of the last two seasons have turned Parsons into one of the worst contracts in the NBA. He’s owed nearly $50 million by Memphis over the next two seasons, which makes it easy to forget that, prior to signing that contract, Parsons had averaged 15.4 points, 5.2 boards and 3.2 assists while shooting 38.5 percent from three over the course of four seasons.

9. KENNETH FARIED (UR)

Age and injuries have taken their toll on Faried, as has his inability to shoot in a league that you need to be able to shoot, but there was a five-year stretch where the Morehead State product averaged double-figures and better than eight rebounds a night. He was a starter and a useful piece on a playoff team. Not bad for a player who only had one offer coming out of Newark.

10. MICHAEL BEASLEY (1)

Beasley has had such a fascinating career. After putting up gargantuan numbers in one season at Kansas State, many expected him to develop into a star in the NBA. That didn’t happen, although he did average 19.2 points during his second season in the league. That said, he is now in year 11 as an NBA player, coming off a season where he played 74 games and averaged 13.2 points for the Knicks and heading out to LA to team up with LeBron. Throw in career earnings that will top $40 million by the end of this season, and all-in-all, things could have been much worse for Super Cool Beas.

(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

11. JAMES JOHNSON (62)

Along with being the one guy in the NBA that you should never, ever get in a fight with, Johnson has managed to carve out a ten-year career for himself. He bounced around the NBA for the first five years of his career before finding a role in Toronto in 2014. He’s had the two-best seasons of his career in the last two years in Miami, including this past season, where he averaged 10.8 points, 4.9 boards and 3.8 assists.

12. EVAN TURNER (49)

Turner had a three-year career at Ohio State that culminated in sharing Player of the Year honors with John Wall as a junior, which jettisoned him to the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He never quite lived up to the hype — he was averaged 17.4 points, 6.0 boards and 3.7 assists when he was traded from a tanking Philly team to come off the bench for the Pacers in 2014 — but has posted 10.2 points, 4.8 boards and 3.5 assists in an eight-year (and counting) career that will earn him at least $98 million.

13. PATRICK PATTERSON (17)

Patterson has only averaged double-figures once in his eight-year career, but he’s developed into a pretty decent veteran big man, and still a fairly-useful piece. He’s never been much more than a borderline starter in the NBA, but he’s 6-foot-9 and he can still rebound and made threes.

14. O.J. MAYO (4)

The hype that Mayo had coming out of high school was on another level, and his “recruitment” to USC is the stuff of legends. He entered the NBA in 2008 with Memphis, averaging 18.5 points as a rookie, but it’s been all downhill from there. He’s never mae an all-star team, he’s never bettered his rookie season numbers and he’s been out of the NBA since 2016 following a positive drug test.

15. JERRYD BAYLESS (13)

After one season at Arizona where he 19.7 points, Bayless has built himself a 10-year NBA career out of being an offensive sparkplug off the bench. Currently, he’s a part-time starter and one of the first guards off the bench for the 76ers.

16. J.J. HICKSON (10)

Hickson was actually a pretty productive player in the league for a few years, topping out during the 2012-13 season, when he averaged 12.7 points and 10.4 boards for Portland. It’s been all downhill since then, as he was out of the NBA by 2016, spent two years in China and, just this summer, was arrested for attempted armed robbery in Georgia.

(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

17. E’TWUAN MOORE (35)

It took awhile for Moore to get where he is, but after spending the first five years of his career bouncing around the league, he’s found a home in New Orleans. This past season, he started 80 games for the Pelicans, averaging 12.5 points and 2.3 assists while shooting 42.3 percent from three.

18. JUSTIN HOLIDAY (83)

One of three Holiday brothers currently in the NBA, Justin had just nine games in one season of NBA player under his belt in 2014 when, at 25 years old, he signed with the Warriors. But in the last four years, he’s carved out a career for himself, highlighted by this past year, where he started 72 games for the Bulls while averaging 12.2 points.

19. NICK CALATHES (14)

Calathes has played just two seasons in the NBA, but he’s a dual-citizen of Greece and has had a decorated, successful and profitable career playing for the Greek club Panathinaikos.

20. ANTHONY RANDOLPH (12)

Like Calathes, Randolph has turned what could be viewed as an NBA failure into a tremendous amount of success overseas. He played in the league for five years, but has been doing nothing but winning trophies over in Europe. He won Eurobasket playing alongside Luke Doncic and Goran Dragic with the Slovenian national team, and cut down the nets with Real Madrid in the Euroleague this past spring.

21. KYLE SINGLER (5)

Singler was an all-american and a national champion with the Duke Blue Devils before getting drafted by the Pistons in the second round in 2011. He lasted three years with Detroit as a starter before heading to Oklahoma City, where he is still on the roster, playing minimal minutes.

22. MIKE SCOTT (115)

Like Singler, Scott didn’t play an NBA game until the 2012-13 season, but he carved out a career for himself as a bench player for the Atlanta Hawks for five seasons. Last year, he played 76 games and averaged 8.8 points off the bench for the Wizards.

23. KOSTA KOUFOS (16)

Believe it or not, Koufos is still in the NBA. The former one-and-done center from Ohio State has played for five teams in his ten-year career, but he’s heading into his fourth season in Sacramento, where he’s averaged 73 games the last three years, starting 89 of them.

24. JON LEUER (82)

The former all-american at Wisconsin has managed to put together a seven-year career in the NBA. He played just eight games last season, but in 2016-17, he averaged a career-high 10.2 points for the Detroit Pistons.

25. NOLAN SMITH (39)

Smith shared National Player of the year awards with Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker in 2011, a year after he won a national title with Duke, and went on to get drafted in the first round by the Portland Trailblazers before his career was sent off the rails by a torn ACL.

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

FIVE NOTABLES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE TOP 25

BILL WALKER (7)

Walker was a high school teammate of O.J. Mayo who ended up enrolling at Kansas State in middle of the 2006-07 season after it was determined that he had already used up his high school eligibility. He would tear an ACL for the second time that season before averaging 16.8 points as a sophomore alongside Michael Beasley. He played parts of five seasons in the NBA, and is currently going by the name Henry Walker while playing in the Phillipines.

DONTE GREENE (9)

Greene played just one season at Syracuse before heading to the NBA, where he was a late first round pick. He lasted four years in the league and has since bounced around the world, playing everywhere from Saudi Arabia to China to Lebanon to the Dominican Republic.

JONNY FLYNN (22)

Best-known as “the guy taken before Stephen Curry”, the former No. 6 pick in the NBA draft played just three seasons in the NBA before heading overseas. Best I can tell, he’s been out of basketball since 2014.

NORRIS COLE (UR)

Cole was a star at Cleveland State before getting picked in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. He played for three years with LeBron and Dwyane Wade in Miami, a valuable role player that earned himself a pair of rings. His best seasons came in 2015-16, when he averaged 10.6 points and 3.7 assists with the Pelicans.

JACOB PULLEN (UR)

One of my favorite players in the college rankings since I started doing this, so I’m throwing his name in here. He was on a two-way contract with the 76ers last year.

VIDEO: Memphis had some laughably bad flops against Tennessee

Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The highlight of No. 3 Tennessee’s win at Memphis on Saturday wasn’t the win itself or a Memphis fan deciding he needed to find some relief behind a concession stand.

It was the laughably bad flopping efforts by the Memphis guards:

Actually, let me take that back.

What is actually laughably bad here is that two of these flops were actually called as offensive fouls.

Seriously, watch that first clip and explain to me how a referee standing ten feet away can possibly believe that was a real foul.

Player of the Year Power Rankings: Zion Williamson reigns again

Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

1. ZION WILLIAMSON, Duke

Nothing has changed with Zion since last week as Duke has yet to play since the last time we rolled out these rankings. We will, however, get a better sense of what he is able to do come Thursday, when the Blue Devils take on No. 11 Texas Tech, the only team in college basketball that has yet to allow more than 1.0 points-per-possession to a team this season.

2. ETHAN HAPP, Wisconsin

The only game that the Badgers played last week was against Savannah State, and Happ finished with 18 points, 11 boards and six assists. The only reason this is relevant is because is bumped Happ up to averaging 5.0 assists on the season, so I can now say that he’s averaging 19 points, 10 boards and five assists. Not bad.

3. R.J. BARRETT, Duke

Ditto, Zion Williamson.

4. GRANT WILLIAMS, Tennessee

I asked around about Grant Williams this week, talking to a few coaches that have scouted or game-planned for him, to try and get a sense for what makes this undersized four-man so good this year. Some mentioned the fact that his long arms make him bigger than he is. Others mentioned his sneaky-athleticism, and that he’s able to step out on the perimeter and be a threat more this year than in the pass.

But one thing that I did hear was how good Williams is as a high-low passer and how well Rick Barnes is able to incorporate this into the offense that the Vols run. The advantage here is that Williams is able to pull a bigger player away from the rim, particularly since he is now effective shooting from beyond the arc. It also allows Rick Barnes to attack matchups, particularly when Admiral Schofield is on the floor. Schofield is 6-foot-5 but is built like a wrestler while also being able to elevate over most defenders. The third clip in the video below shows a perfect example of Williams pulling size out of the paint to allow Schofield to post-up a smaller Zach Norvell Jr.:

5. RUI HACHIMURA, Gonzaga

One thing that I have touched on over and over again is that Rui Hachimura is not a great defender on the perimeter. According to Synergy, he’s allowed 25 points in 23 possessions where he was isolated defensively, and the 1.087 points-per-possession that he has allowed is good for the 14th percentile nationally.

It has gotten to the point that opposing offenses target the matchup with Hachimura. Mark Few has been mixing up his defenses this season, but one of the things that he does quite a bit is to switch everything on the perimeter, and when he does, opponents have had a tendency to create those switches until they get the matchup they want: Hachimura guarding a ball-handler on the perimeter. The last three clips in the video below show that happening:

6. DE’ANDRE HUNTER, Virginia

Hunter had one of his worst games of the season the last time we saw the Wahoos play, but that was last Sunday. UVA is at South Carolina this week.

7. JARRETT CULVER, Texas Tech

Texas Tech has looked really good this season. They’ve also played Nebraska, USC and Memphis … and that’s basically it. We’ll be able to better have this conversation on Friday morning, after the Red Raiders get Duke in Madison Square Garden.

8. DEDRIC LAWSON, Kansas

Lawson was awesome again on Saturday, going for 28 points and 12 boards as Kansas knocked off Villanova in Phog Allen Fieldhouse. The only reason that I don’t have Lawson ranked higher than this is that he might not actually be the best player on his own team this season; Lagerald Vick, when he’s not benched or suspended, has been a monster.

9. NICKEIL ALEXANDER-WALKER, Virginia Tech

Alexander-Walker was the best player on the floor for the the Hokies as they smoked Washington in Atlantic City on Saturday. He finished with 24 points and three assists, a return to dominance in the first game Virginia Tech has played against a relevant opponent in nearly three weeks.

10. CHARLES MATTHEWS, Michigan

This is the first appearance for Matthews — for any Michigan player — in the top ten of these rankings. I’m torn on who from that team should be considered their all-american candidate. I’ve discussed this before, but the way that this Michigan team is built does not lend itself to having a player in that mix. Zavier Simpson is their leader, but that doesn’t really show up in the box score. Ignas Brazdeikis is the team’s leading scorer, but this is a team that wins with defense. Jon Teske is the most-improved player on the roster. Jordan Poole is in that conversation as well.

But for my money, Matthews — who is an alpha defensively, plays a leadership role himself and is the team’s second-leading scorer — is the guy that should get the nod.

IN THE MIX: Jordan Caroline (Nevada), Luguentz Dort (Arizona State) Carsen Edwards (Purdue), Ja Morant (Murray State), Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s), Lagerald Vick (Kansas)

Trent Forrest helps No. 11 Florida State beat SE Missouri 85-68

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Trent Forrest scored a career high 23 points and freshman Devin Vassell added 16 points as No. 11 Florida State overcame a sluggish first half and beat Southeast Missouri 85-68 on Monday night.

Forrest shot 8 for 12 from the floor, and had a team-high eight rebounds and four assists to help the Seminoles (9-1) win their fourth straight.

Florida State secured its 30th straight non-conference home win. Nebraska is the last non-conference team to defeat the Seminoles, 70-65 on Dec. 1, 2014.

Ledarrius Brewer scored 16 points and Skyler Hogan added 14 points for Southeast Missouri (5-7).

Christ Koumadje added seven rebounds as Florida State outrebounded the undersized Redhawks 46-28.

Southeast Missouri led 47-42 with 14:46 to go but Florida State went on a 12-0 run to take control for good.

The Seminoles shot 50 percent (31 for 62). They were just 1 for 12 on 3-pointers in the first half before finishing 6 for 24.

Florida State senior forward Phil Cofer played for the first time this season after missing nine games due to a preseason foot injury. Cofer didn’t have a point or rebound in five minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Southeast Missouri: The Redhawks had Florida State on the ropes as Brewer scored 10 points in the first half. They ran out of gas in the second half and couldn’t match up with the Seminoles’ height or athleticism.

Florida State: The Seminoles were playing for the first time in eight days and were able to withstand the scrappy Redhawks.

UP NEXT

Southeast Missouri will host Abilene Christian on Friday.

Florida State hosts North Florida on Wednesday.

Sharp-shooting Vanderbilt beats No. 18 Arizona State 81-65

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Saben Lee scored 14 points to lead five players in double figures and sharp-shooting Vanderbilt beat No. 18 Arizona State 81-65 on Monday night.

Vanderbilt snapped an eight-game skid against ranked opponents that dated to an overtime win over Florida in the 2017 Southeastern Conference Tournament. The Commodores (7-2) also beat Arizona State for the first time in five tries on the Sun Devils’ first visit to Memorial Gym.

The Commodores had a big night from beyond the arc, hitting 6 of 12 from deep in the first half and 12 of 28 for the game.

Aaron Nesmith added 13 points off the bench for Vanderbilt. Yanni Wetzell had 12, and Matt Ryan and Joe Toye had 11 each.

Arizona State, which moved up two spots in the AP Top 25 earlier Monday, has lost two of three.

Rob Edwards led Arizona State with 14 points. Luguentz Dort came in as the fourth-highest freshman scorer in the nation averaging 20.9 points, but he had just 10 points. Zylan Cheatham had 14 rebounds.

This was the first game after the Commodores’ 12-day break for finals and is the second part of a home-and-home deal with Arizona State. The Sun Devils won 76-64 in Tempe last season.

Arizona State opened by scoring the first nine points as Vanderbilt missed its first six shots. After that, the Commodores finished the first half outscoring the Sun Devils 34-19, including an 18-3 run over the final 6:49.

Vanderbilt pushed that to 37-28 when Ryan hit a 3 to open the second half. Dort scored five straight points to pull Arizona State within 37-34, but that was as close as the Sun Devils got until Edwards and Kimani Lawrence hit back-to-back 3s with 3:53 left to pull within 62-59.

Simisola Shittu answered with a layup, and Toye knocked down a 3 as Vanderbilt pushed the lead back to double digits.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona State: The Sun Devils finish 2-1 in nonconference play against the SEC. They beat Mississippi State in November in Las Vegas and edged Georgia last weekend before coming to Nashville. … The Sun Devils came in ninth nationally with a rebound margin of 11.6, yet they outrebounded Vandy only 42-39.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores are part of a rare trio with UNLV and Princeton as the only programs to make a 3-pointer in every game since the 3-point line debuted for the 1986-87 season. After Vanderbilt missed its first seven shots, Nesmith hit a 3 to make it 1,040 straight games with a 3-pointer.

UP NEXT

Arizona State: Hosts top-ranked Kansas on Saturday.

Vanderbilt: Visits Kansas State on Saturday.

Notre Dame’s Rex Pflueger lost for season with ACL tear

AP Photo/Darron Cummings
Leave a comment

Notre Dame senior Rex Pflueger is done for the year.

The 6-foot-6 wing suffered a torn ACL on Saturday in the Fighting Irish’s win against Purdue and will miss the rest of the season, he announced Monday.

“I am saddened to find out that I did in fact tear my ACL in our last game against Purdue,” Pflueger wrote on social media. “This is just one of life’s crazy tests that I have prepared myself for with the loving help of my family and friends. I will continue to cheer and push my Notre Dame family to  not only compete but to dominate for the rest of the season.

“We have an incredible group of players who will pick up right where we left off last game.”

Pflueger has started every game for the 7-3 Irish. He was averaging 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 39 percent from the field and 38.9 percent from 3-point range.

“I’m extremely disappointed that he won’t be able to continue this season,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said in a statement. “He has been an unbelievable winner and leader for us. He has continually helped me endorse our culture he at Notre DAme.

“I look forward to him continuing to lead and giving me great feedback the rest of the season.”

Notre Dame, which previously lost Robby Carmody for the season with a torn labrum, will have some time to acclimate to a post-Pflueger reality as the Irish will face Binghamton, Jacksonville and Coppin State before beginning ACC play Jan. 1 at Virginia Tech.

Given the injury happened in the first half of the season and Pflueger has played in just 10 games, he could potentially be a medical redshirt candidate should he choose to pursue a fifth season of eligibility.